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Real Madrid vs. AC Milan in Dubai

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By ESPN Staff

Zlatan absent from Sweden squad for Egypt friendly

Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has turned down an offer to join the Sweden squad to face Egypt in a friendly next month.

'I had a conversation with Zlatan a couple of days ago where he told me that he had changed his mind and no longer wants to be part of the Swedish team', said Swedish national coach Lars Lagerbäck at a press conference Tuesday at Rasunda stadium in Stockholm.

Ibrahimovic has otherwise expressed his desire to rejoin the national side during a talk with Lagerbäck in November but has now chosen to focus his efforts on winning the Italian Serie A title with Inter.

The charismatic striker has not played for Sweden since being sent home from the squad in September last year for staying out too late ahead of a European qualifier against Liechtenstein.

Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg, who has just begun training after being injured, is another absentee from the squad but goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson of Manchester City has returned.

The game, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of CAF, the African Football Confederation, is the last match for Sweden before a Euro qualifier against Northern Ireland in March.

Coach Lars Lagerback said he had spoken with Ibrahimovic, who had said he did not want to be back in the squad, without giving a reason.

'We do not believe in trying to persuade people if someone is not 100 percent committed. But neither we nor Zlatan have closed any doors,' Lageback said in a statement.

He said the ball was in Zlatan's court.

Lagerback said he had also spoken with Larsson, whose form while on loan to Manchester United has sparked calls for him to return to the national side. Lagerback said Larsson was sticking to his decision.

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City), Rami Shaaban (Fredrikstad)

Defenders: Erik Edman (Stade Rennes), Petter Hansson (Heerenveen), Markus Jonsson (AIK Stockholm), Daniel Majstorovic (FC Basel), Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa), Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos), Max von Schlebrugge (Anderlecht)

Midfielders: Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Gothenburg), Daniel Andersson (Malmo), Kennedy Bakircioglu (FC Twente), Andreas Johansson (Wigan Athletic), Kim Kallstrom (Olympique Lyonnais), Tobias Linderoth (FC Copenhagen), Christian Wilhelmsson (Roma)

Forwards: Marcus Allback (FC Copenhagen), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen), Rade Prica (Aalborg), Johan Elmander (Toulouse)